If you’ve ever lived in a town with nothing but a McDonald’s and a gas station, you probably understand the excitement that comes over you when you find out some behemoth of a development has decided to post up shop in your town. Now the question is why would they want to locate in your town, and not the one down the way already fully developed. Part of the reason might be because of what Alison Engelhardt provides as part of the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership. She is the Assistant Vice President for New Market Tax Credits, or tax credits you can receive for choosing to locate in an area less developed than other prime property in the area. When learning about how this works, I was reminded of the Ted Talk from Edi Rama about how paint can help take back your city.
Similar to how a fresh coat of paint can help take back your city, that brand new manufacturing building or corporate office can help provide that spark needed to inspire other businesses to locate in their vicinity and bring needed economic dollars to the area. Our environment is ultimately what fosters our ability to innovate and grow, but beyond the infrastructure and resources that help breathe life back into cities, the catalysts that makes all of it possible are people like Alison. Their passion for life and the St. Louis community are contagious and are what encourage people like me to get involved, learn more about new opportunities, and further pursue ways to build and innovate in the St. Louis community.
Connectors, market mavens, and salesmen are the keys to spreading an epidemic. For marketers and communication professionals, The Tipping Point is a great read to help broaden your scope of understanding when it comes to identifying the individuals from your audience who are responsible for igniting a movement, as well as what type of content is needed to engage such members of your audience.
Starting with the first brand of individual Gladwell identifies, connectors occupy multiple worlds and subcultures and are able to do so because of their curiosity, self-confidence, sociability, and energy. Connectors are the ones who connect us to new people, whereas market mavens are the ones who connect us to new information. These individuals thrive on their ability to make priceless connections and gather valuable insights, while also brokering such connections and insights to others. Similar to the explanation of social currency from my previous blog on Jonah Berger's book Contagious, these connectors and market mavens find value in sharing information because it provides them with a means to mint their own social currency, thus providing them with a sense of status in their various circles.
Salesmen are the last of the three interest groups marketers and communication professionals need to consider when designing contagious campaigns. Unlike market-mavens, salesmen persuade their audiences to adopt whatever new information they are presenting. Inevitably, some ideas will not catch on immediately, and these ideas take a little more persuasive maneuvering to push a product, service, or cause to its tipping point. Salesmen are the ones who see an idea or product they like, and they feel the need to convince those around them that it's the next big thing. As long as they are on board with your idea, they will do everything in their power to get their audiences on board as well.
“Why is it that some ideas or behaviors or products start epidemics and others don’t? And what can we do to deliberately start and control positive epidemics of our own?”
Taking into consideration these three select groups of individuals whom add to the tide of an epidemic, Gladwell proposes that the content these individuals share must posses what he calls the stickiness-factor, or the reason behind why some things stick and catch on, and why others don't. As a brand strategist myself, I found his theories to be very helpful in helping me to broaden my scope and consider the little things when crafting content for the brands I represent. I definitely recommend this great read from Malcolm Gladwell so that you too can broaden your creative ability to create contagious campaigns and drive brands to their tipping point.